The German American Chamber of Commerce, an agency created to promote business relations between Germany and the Southern United States, has selected Tampa as its new Florida headquarters.
The announcement came at a press conference hosted by Tampa International Airport on July 19, less than two months after German-owned Edelweiss Air began nonstop service to Zurich from Tampa. The service is extremely successful and showing signs of strong long-term bookings.
Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano welcomed the crowd in German, and talked about the importance of building relationships. As TPA seeks to increase international air service, Germany is a top priority.
“We have had six meetings with German airlines over the past 18 months and have more scheduled,” Lopano said. “We are intent on bringing nonstop service to Germany from Tampa International Airport.”
Local business leaders on hand for the event credit Tampa’s business environment for the GACC’s decision. After Canada and the United Kingdom, Germany is the third largest foreign job creator in Florida.
Among those at the press conference: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who sits on the board of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.
"The Tampa area has the highest concentration of foreign direct investment in the state of Florida. That investment from countries like Germany has helped us to weather the economic tumult here at home,” Buckhorn said. “I want to build on that foundation, and look forward to a successful partnership with the German American Chamber of Commerce."
“This was a competition,” Rick Homans, president of the Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., said of the GACC announcement. “One of the strongest economies in the world was looking in Florida for where it has the most potential to expand business, find direct investment and export products. And the winner of that competition was Tampa Bay. We all view Germany as a priority for us, for visitors, for direct flights, for foreign investment."
Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, who was instrumental in bringing the GACC to Tampa, said he views the move as a tremendous opportunity to grow international investment in the Tampa Bay area.
“You are going to see more direct flights, more businesses, and an educational opportunity that is going to improve relationships,” he said. “More importantly it’s going to create jobs.”